The other day I was showing some lovely people the bustling market in Uman, when it occurred to me that I would like to buy the ingredients for making sikil pak, the traditional Yucatecan pepita de calabaza dip that I adore on crispy corn tortilla chips, to attempt to recreate this at home. Asking a vendor or two for the correct ingredients and quantities I bought the ingredients for one batch:
- one bag (about the volume of my two hands put together) of pepita molida aka toasted and ground squash seeds
- three ripe local tomatoes (not the round ones, the oblong ones)
- a bunch of fresh, pungent cilantro
Today, I made the dip and to me, it turned out absolutely scrumptious and since I didn’t have any corn chips lying around that weren’t soggy from all this humidity, I used Salma brand baked corn crackers, crispy and slightly toasty-burnt.
Here’s the methodology:
- Turn on your heating element and stick a grill or iron pan on it. Set the tomatoes in the pan or on the grill and go check your Facebook timeline or something else that will allow the tomatoes enough time to properly toast, burn and smell up the kitchen.
- Between liking photos and putting smiley face comments on your friends Facebook pages, turn the tomatoes this way and that, to get all the sides roasting and burning.
- Once the juice is bubbling out of the tomatoes and the skin is blackened on 3/4 of each tomato, skin those suckers (I used tongs and it comes off really easily) and cut off the hard ends where the tomato was attached to the vine and toss them (the tomatoes!) in a bowl. The skins and ends go into the compost.
- The cilantro, roots and black leaves removed, gets tossed into the bowl as well.
- Use one of those hand blenders, stick it in the bowl and grind away (with the blender that is) until you have a puree consistency.
- Pour in the pepita. All of it, go ahead. Now with a spatula, mix it all up until it becomes a thick, creamy, totally un-photogenic dip.
- Add some salt to taste.
- I also added a squirt of Habanero salsa that I had sitting around to give it some kick.
And voila – Sikil Pak! Now dip those Salma crackers in there and gobble away. Yum!
As I was eating I thought it would be interesting to see what the actual recipe is for Sikil Pak and a Google search in English brought back many results, and the following is my personal favorite weird version where something simple and delicious and easy to make is turned into a ridiculous gourmet event that in no way resembles the original.
The Tasting Table website (http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/chefs_recipes/8783) is a ridiculously fun example of this. First of all the photo: the dip shown is green, and looks more like parsley-infused hummus than any Sikil Pak I have ever seen.
Second, the description states that chef Mike Isabella spent 8 years (EIGHT YEARS!) researching and that, combined with his love of margaritas, has resulted in his take on the “Aztec” dip. Aztec? Really? I guess that’s what 8 years of drinking margaritas will get you; Aztecs, Mayas, Incas, Totonacas, whatever. Hic.
The ingredients for this researched-for-eight-years take on the “Aztec” dip include shallots, garlic and jalapeño peppers, sauteed in canola oil. It gets worse as he whips in olive oil and infuses it with citrus zest. Because when you are a famous chef, you know at some point something is going to get infused.
Geez Louise – sounds like you need a Martha Stewart kitchen to whip this “Aztec” version up. Call it Mike’s Pumpkin Seed Dip; call it the Isabella Aztec Smoothie; hell, call it Frank, but for Chaac’s sake don’t call it Sikil Pak.
A Google search en español brought up this website, which is, in my never humble opinion, the real deal.
I have just finished eating my quick and easy version and I highly recommend it and thankfully, my rant has come to an end!
6 thoughts on “Sikil Pak – a Traditional Mayan Dip – Recipe and Rant!”
I am wondering if pumpkin seeds would be similar to the pepitas molidas?
Well we use squash seeds and the pumpkin is not that far off a relative… I say try it! If chef Mike Isabella can make it with shallots and call it Aztec, anything goes!
Happy to see my blog posted here! 😉
Have a nice day!
Paco Perez @ Delicias de la Comida Prehispanica
So glad to have found this piece, am going to link to it on my piece. I too have been making pumpkin seed dips, first having found the fancy chefs’ versions, and trying to claw my way backward to what must be simpler. You first found the real thing then noticed all the fancification 🙂 I myself am trying to make versions of this that respect the simplicity but use lacto-fermented ingredients for health reasons.